June 4, 2021

The History of Infusions

Specialty Infusion Blog Viv C

How did medical practitioners begin performing infusions? Here is the history of infusions.

While infusion pumps are a new invention, intravenous therapy began in the Middle Ages. The first infusion device was successfully created by Oxford scientist Sir Christopher Wren in 1656 from a pig’s bladder and a writing quill. While successful, Wren found the device to lack durability and was difficult to secure. Wren garnered a reputation as the Father of Intravenous Therapy because of this.

In 1662, Johann Major was the first to successfully infuse humans. Major’s work involved both blood transfusion and the injection of medicinal substances. Unfortunately, many deaths resulted in Major’s work because of infection at the infusion site.

In 1665, Richard Lower saved an animal’s life by performing a blood transfusion from another animal.

Two years later, Jean Baptise Denis infused lamb’s blood into a 15-year old boy. While the boy survived, Denis would perform the procedure again on another man, who died.

Because of this, Denis was tried for manslaughter. He was acquitted, but the Edict of Chatelet banned all transfusions without the approval of the Paris Faculty of Medicine. Both Rome and England followed suit.

In the 1830s, Dr. Thomas Latta discovered that injecting salty water into a patient’s bloodstream had a measurable impact on fighting cholera, which removes water from the bloodstream. During this same period, Dr. James Blundell proved that transfusing animal blood into humans was unsafe. Only human blood can be transferred into humans.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Luer Company developed the Luer connection, which is still used today. This allows the head of the hypodermic needle to be easily attached and detached. In 1900, Karl Landsteiner identified four main classifications for human blood, thus proving not all human blood is alike.

Rapid advancements in infusion therapy came in 1914. Sodium citrate was found to prevent blood from clotting. Dextrose was used as an infusant in 1925. In 1930, infusions were switched from open containers to vacuum-sealed glass bottles. Ten years later, nurses were allowed to administer infusions. Before 1940, only doctors were permitted to perform infusions.

1960 marked the year when infusion pumps became standard in all hospitals!

As you can see, the history of infusions shows the tremendous progress the field has made. At Specialty Infusion Centers, we provide the latest infusion treatments and first-class patient care. Visit one of our centers conveniently located near you for all your infusion needs.